I’d like to say that it’s getting easier. It’s not really. At some moments I actually think the days are getting harder. Even writing this blog has gotten more difficult. Some days I’m just at a loss for words. No sentence I formulate can really capture the way I feel inside. The people around me interpret my pain to only be the initial loss of my son–what happened the exact day that we found out he was gone. The further we move on from that day, the more they expect me to be “better.” As if I’ve fallen off a bike and scraped my leg or come down with a cold and just need a few days to heal. What they don’t realize is that every day that goes on without my son feels like the worst day of my life. Every time someone musters up the courage to ask how I’m doing I want to scream or cry. I know it sounds crazy, but I almost become resentful of the person who is caring enough to ask–because they put me in a position where I feel I can’t be honest. I have to hold back who I really am right now and how I truly feel. I think that they are hoping for the “on the surface” answer. I say “okay” or “hanging in there” because I don’t know what else to say. Some people, most people, don’t want the truth. They want to hear that I’m good, that I’m healing. If I head down the dark road of how I really feel I could say something that might tarnish the beautiful world that they live in–the world that is made up of their complete home–where they have the privilege of beginning and ending every day with their families. Where they get to read books to their children and kiss them goodnight. Not like me. My days begin and end with a picture of my son in a frame situated on my bedroom shelf. Some days I gaze at that photo of Rylan’s beautiful face and wonder if he was ever real. If my pregnancy was a dream. I struggle to remember how it felt to run my fingertips across his soft cheeks. I dream about what it would have been like to rock him to sleep. I think about what his cries might have sounded like–what the life in his eyes might have looked like beaming at me in the morning. I think about these things and more every single day. Sometimes they are comforting. A lot of times they make me full of sorrow. Other times just angry–so hurt that this is our reality. It doesn’t feel right. It doesn’t feel fair. How can you be expected to move through your days like everything is so-called normal when your life couldn’t feel more upside down? I feel like this loss has ruined so many things for us. I feel like we’re so alone in our lives. So different from the rest of the world. So different from our friends and family. So different from our former selves.
I started back at work last week. For the month of August I’m working a shorter schedule–3, than 4 days a week. The first day back was okay. The morning was spent catching up with people I hadn’t seen, giving the “on the surface” answers I spoke of above. The rest of the day I worked on a rush concept, presented that afternoon. At the end of the day my boss said something to the effect of, “you did good, you made it through your first day,” with a big smile on her face. I wanted to cry. I think she thought that because she didn’t see me in tears at my desk that it went well. The truth is, it was extremely difficult–from having to congratulate someone on their pregnancy to gazing at the “baby” folder of my son’s ultrasound images on my computer desktop. I just kept it to myself. I have to give her credit as she tried to make my first day nice–she left a balloon and flower arrangement on my desk and drew a “welcome back” sign on the blackboard. It’s hard because even the nicest gestures are difficult. The sign was on the very same board that a few months ago listed names of our baby pool–a gamble on which day Rylan was to arrive. I wished my return warranted “baby boy” balloons, exchanges with people about my new mom experiences, and photos of my sweet baby. Instead, I never even spoke his name out loud. The next day I came in I was tasked to work on another rush project to be presented to the client the following day in my absence. By Friday I made changes to the same job again, quickly, for client approval. Despite the stress of rush jobs I managed to leave close to on-time every day and was able to make our counseling session mid-week. Yesterday was my fourth day back. Some additional rush projects, a meeting, a last minute job at the end of the day, needed for a meeting first thing today. I left at 7:15 pm, even though I did not complete the job. I felt bad that I couldn’t finish it but knew that I did more than I could handle. I should’ve left at 5:30 pm as my husband needed me at home. I feel awful about that. I needed him, too. I blasted music and cried the entire way home until I was back with Chris. Something must have been in the air yesterday because it was a tough day for both of us (“tough” being an understatement). I felt obligated to stay. If it was up to me I would of left before the day was half over. Work and it’s expectations are a lot to handle, as I knew they would be. Surviving the environment proves to be a daily challenge for me. I continue to forget my headphones which I think will become my most cherished accessory in the months to come. Without them I’ve been tortured by the conversations between co-workers only a few steps from my desk. On all sides I must listen to people discuss their children… babies on the way and pregnancy woes… how amazing someone looks after the birth of her son a few weeks ago… family vacations… weekend activities… sporting events and first days of school… a daughter’s cute, curly hair… “Picture People” photos of cute little boys… how someone’s kids just won’t sleep through the night… the list goes on and on and on and on. It’s so hard to have to cope with our loss on it’s own–then add all of the family reminders that surround us on a daily basis. Then throw in work. Work is almost unbearable. Because with work you don’t have the luxury of fleeing the scene like you can do in other instances. I mean, if I got up every time I needed a breather or a good, hard cry I’d never be at my desk. I often want to call my husband during the day but worry that it will make me even more homesick. Plus, I don’t feel like a short conversation will be enough to sustain us until we’re back together. I also don’t want to cause him additional sadness or give him any more reasons to worry about me, as I know he already does. It was so difficult to be at work when I knew he needed me this week. And the drive home to get to him made 45 minutes feel like 45 hours. I worry about transitioning to full time (plus overtime) again. I’m afraid that we can’t do it. Part of what got me through yesterday was knowing that we’d be home together today. I also worry about the growing expectations with regard to my role at work. I just don’t feel that I can handle the stress of my job anymore. I tried to explain this to my husband last night–that I start my days with anxiety and sadness that could just about fill a glass to the top–any type of stress added to it may just cause it to spill over. I need my job. I’m just afraid that I can’t do it to the capacity that I use to, or that others will expect me to live up to moving forward. Again, I wish I could run away. From work. From people. From our home sometimes. From adult responsibilities. I just want to protect us from the world, find a place that feels safe, and stay there. Trouble is, I don’t think that place exists.